6 Takeaways from Game of Thrones: Season 8, Episode 3

April 29, 2019
The Long Night

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An episode this epic and recordbreaking deserves more takeaways. Here are SIX things that stood out during "The Long Night." 

1. The somewhat unexpected VIP of the whole damn battle of Winterfell: Melisandre. To be fair, the red priestess had warned us she had to die in this strange country - and that the night would be dark and full of terrors! After several missteps and some crippling doubt, Mel served her Lord of Light well in the end, spurring Arya to her own destiny (more on that later), igniting the trench surrounding the castle when the original plan failed (ultimately useless since the dead just lurched on through and formed a human bridge, but still a thing), and giving the Dothraki fire to light their way... so that Dany could realize they’d been slaughtered. Gulp. Let’s be honest: it was a bit deus ex machina that all the war planning and careful strategy gave way to a magical outsider swooping in to save the day. But it was extremely entertaining so I’ll take it!

2. The actual fighting was hard to watch for emotional reasons... and for many of us, LITERALLY HARD TO WATCH. Obviously a battle with the Night King, trying to save the world from an endless night, in an episode called "The Long Night," had to happen AT NIGHT, but I spent a lot of the episode like this:

It was all I could do to make out the features of our fearless frontline fighters, like Brienne, Jaime, and Tormund. For me, the chaos of the darkness took away from some of the emotional punch on the battlefield outside Winterfell, but there were some moments that clearly made me gasp. The immediate eradication of the mighty Dothraki, watching their flaming arakhs blink out into nothingness. Lord Commander Dolorous Edd saving Sam just before dying himself: the first of the episode’s major deaths. And even though it was inevitable that the Night King would pull his “reanimating the dead” party trick at some point during the 80-minute long episode, doing it as just Jon was heroically charging him made it all the more chilling. And that was before we realized...

3. ...that yes, reanimating the dead also included Stark bodies down in the crypt. Thank The Mother we didn’t get a zombie, Ned. The crypt wasn’t as much of a group death sentence as all the heavy-handed foreshadowing from last week had us believing, but watching the women and children face certain doom was still pretty horrific. I am a little confused about what Tyrion and Sansa planned to do, exactly. It looked like a suicide pact, and then they... just ran and hid some more? Still, their scenes were the emotional heart of the episode: when it comes to the men Sansa has been with, “you were the best of them,” aww.  HOWEVER. Missandei is DEFINITELY going to tell Dany that in the face of certain doom, her Hand and her nephew-boyfriend’s sister were joking about her - and may have committed some light treason.

4. Dany and Jon did not have their finest hours last night: much like Jon abandoning the Battle of the Bastards plan after watching his little brother Rickon die, Dany couldn’t just stand around waiting for the Night King after her Dothraki army met its end. Impulsive battle behavior: must be a Targaryen thing? Pros to calling an audible: a cool dragon fight! Cons: Dany trying and failing to torch the Night King on the ground, the Night King raising more dead, including their recently fallen friends, and Jorah sacrificing himself to save Dany from them. So... not a net positive. (Also, was Jon attempting to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge his way past Viserion?) In conclusion, stick to your plans, kids! What will Dany's massive losses mean for her quest for the Iron Throne? Will she and AeJon be able to work out a succession plan that doesn't end in fire and blood?

5. Over in the godswood... when he wasn’t busy warging into crows for reasons that are currently as difficult to see as a battlefield at night, Bran said something to Theon (RIP) that really resonated: “Everything you did brought you where you are now. Where you belong. Home.” This sentiment echoes what Bran told Jaime in the godswood last week, about his fate as the Three-Eyed Raven, and is true for a number of characters (and in REAL LIFE). We are the sum of our choices. Even when we think we’re lost, we can always choose a different path and find our way back again. Bran could have been saying this to either of his sisters, too. Especially Everyone’s Favorite Assassin, who arrived in the godswood just in time to save the world's memory from being erased. 

6. To be perfectly honest, I did not expect to see the death of the Night King tonight. There are three more episodes and so much ground left to cover. But no one told that to MOTHERF*CKING ARYA.​ She brought everything her long strange journey has taught her to the fight while managing to sneak in some quippy callbacks. After we learned that the Lord of Light brought Beric Dondarrion back all those times to save her life, and Melisandre reminded her what we say to the God of Death, Arya did what she now does best: kill bad guys. It was such a relief when her Assassin's Creed-caliber flying leap resulted in the best mid-air hand switch since Michael Jordan in 1991. I immediately cried ugly happy tears. Our little Stark girl did good. And I suspect she's not done.

Epilogue: RIP, in order: Lord Commander Dolorous Edd, Little Giantslayer Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Greyjoy, Jorah Mormont, Melisandre, and NOT GHOST. Gone but no RIP required: The Night King, the Army of the Dead, and zombie Viserion - that one's a little sad in hindsight, actually. Here's more on the repercussions of all those we lost. 

Ok, just a few more notes: boy oh boy does the Hound love, Arya. Will we ever get to see his reunion scene with Sansa? Melisandre told Varys that HE had to die in this strange country too: will that play out in King's Landing? Dany's remaining dragons are definitely in rough shape. Drogon destroyed Qyburn's scorpion in Season 7, but the fact that we keep seeing one in the new opening credits makes me fearful for their long-term safety.